The following pamplet by George Schmidt was first published in 1978 as “The American Federation of Teachers and the CIA” (Chicago: Substitutes United for Better Schools).
The research that went into this pamphlet was done by members of Substitutes United for Better Schools and the Midwest Research Group. It is continuing. We hope that this study provides the basis for debate and further analysis of the question.
A number of people around the world deserve most of the credit for persistently focusing public attention on the machinations of the CIA in general and within the labor movement in particular. The pioneer of work in the area of the CIA and labor was Sidney Lens, an outstanding leader of the anti-war movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s whose roots go back to the labor radicalism of the 1920’s. For many of us, Sid Lens is one of those most responsible for bridging the gap between the older generation of American radicals and our generation.
Both at home and abroad, a number of tireless researchers and writers have continued to focus on these questions—often at great personal expense. Fred Hirsch, who first introduced the labor movement in California to AIFLD’s role in the Chile coup, needs more thanks than he can be given. Rodney Larson of Transnational Features Services has been insistent in his help. We all owe both of these men a debt of gratitude.
A number of helpful individuals prefer at this time to provide their assistance in anonymity. This is understandable, since the vindictiveness of those who deal in the lives of millions is well known. It is hoped that this pamphlet and the debate that follows will increase the freedom—true freedom—for all points of view to be aired in America without fear of reprisal by decent people.
Four groups of people must be mentioned. The substitute teachers of Chicago have helped to inspire this effort. Like their counterparts in the 1930’s who built the local unions of the American working people, they have insistently refused to take no for an answer. Denied a voice in union affairs, they have made their enforced silence the loudest of all voices for justice.
A number of the founders and older members of the Chicago Teachers Union deserve to be remembered, rather than slandered. Their selfless work 40 years ago built a union that, all too often, has become the watering place of “leaders” of less character and integrity than they.
Our students are one of the most important reasons why we cannot let the lies of those in power dominate our lives. Hundreds of high school students in the inner city of Chicago over the past four years have taught me much about education, learning, and the importance of honesty. In our schools and classrooms, they give the lie to the claims of the leaders of our union and the slander of politicians like Dr. Moynihan, who claimed that teaching in their schools and their communities was like being led to Eichmann’s ovens. The future must be for them. My fondest hope is that they will learn to make a world where they can live in peace and decency and where the ideas spread by the Moynihans are laid to rest, once and forever.
Finally, to those men and women of the world movement for liberation in the past twenty years, both at home and abroad, who have managed to turn back the power of the dollars and begin to create the world that we all should be building.
In 1966, Ramparts magazine published an article charging that the National Student Association had been receiving funds from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency for its international work. The following year, both the New York Times and the Washington Post charged that William G. Carr, executive secretary of the National Education Association and secretary general of the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession, had knowingly accepted CIA money and helped organize a foundation that became a transmission belt for the CIA.
The American Federation of Teachers responded to the NEA revelations by stating: “The integrity of teachers has been compromised and American educators who go abroad, seeking links with colleagues in Europe, Asia and Africa, will henceforth be under suspicion that they may not be acting independently, but as arms of their government. If so, what makes them better than the agents of totalitarian lands?”
In May, 1967, AFT National President Charles Cogen called on the NEA to open its books and clear theair. Cogen declared:
Covert CIA financial and political influence of American organizations is repugnant to our democracy. Unless the true extent of such infiltration is known, all international and national operations of the NEA must be suspect.
In a telegram to William Carr of the NEA, Cogen stated:
The AFT has never engaged in any covert activities, nor has it accepted such funding asis here involved, nor has the International Federation of Free Teachers Unions (IFFTU).
In the following months, more disclosures of covert CIA financing of supposedly democratic organizations came to light. It was also revealed that the CIA was recruiting and possibly spying on the campuses of America’s universities. The AFT and its members protested vigorously.
As a result of the revelations of the CIA’s covert financing of so-called “free” organizations, the CIA itself disbanded the numerous “charitable foundations” which had served as its cover—or at least it claimed to do so. The Congress for Cultural Freedom, the National Student Association, and the National Education Association did in fact sever their CIA ties. But a lot of stonewalling went on before they did.
Ten years after the AFT proudly proclaimed its freedom from CIA influence and money, one of America’s most famous CIA labor missionaries was invited by AFT president Albert Shanker to speak at the union’s annual convention. Irving Brown, identified in the convention program as the “AFL-CIO Representative in Europe,” was to speak to the Labor Education Luncheon. Brown’s financial relations with the CIA made the NEA’s look like small change. No less a man than Thomas Braden, who had been the director of CIA’s Special Operations in Europe during the 1950’s, had proudly boasted that hehad gone to the “vaults of the CIA’ to fund Brown’s European adventures.
The invitation to Brown from AFT president Albert Shanker, the support given to Brown’s speech by Shanker’s assistant Al Loewenthal, and the reception given the speech by the small number of AFT luminaries who actually heard Brown, raise some serious questions about “the integrity of teachers” now working in international programs sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers.
Unfortunately, much has changed since 1967 within the AFT. There was very little free and open discussion of the union’s international affairs and labor education programs at the 1977 convention. There was no ringing denunciation of covert subversion of teachers’ integrity. Although a vast majority of the delegates to the convention responded to the calls of the United Action Caucus and the Black Caucus of AFT to “Boycott CIA Goods,” the issue has not been met. In 1978, the AFT leadership plans further expansion of the union’s international affairs programs and the convention is likely to approve the resolutions.
Today, the American Federation of Teachers is three times larger than it was in the days of Charles Cogen’s presidency. It is a power in the AFL-CIO. AFT president Albert Shanker sits on the AFL-CIO Executive Council.
But within the union, many doors have closed and many voices have been silenced since the move to elect Shanker national president began in the early 1970’s and culminated with his victory in 1974.Members face harassment and intimidation—verbally, to be sure—for the expression of views that don’t show the team spirit demanded of the national leadership’s “Progressive Caucus.” Delegates to national union conventions from the largest union locals—the ones that control the outcome of convention votes—sign “loyalty oaths” pledging to support the caucus line before they are allowed to be slated for the delegations by the leadership. Important votes are published since the secret ballot was abolished at the beginning of Shanker’s presidency. Those who vote “wrong” know what they face. While open debates still take place, they are becoming fewer and farther between with each passing convention year. And if the leadership has its way this year, the conventions will be every two years, giving the rank and file still less of a voice in national union affairs.
Parts of the information contained in this pamphlet were originally published in two installments in the newspaper Substance, the periodical of the Chicago substitute teachers organization Substitutes Unitedfor Better Schools (S.U.B.S.). S.U.B.S. was founded in 1975 as both a caucus within the Chicago Teachers Union (Local 1 of the AFT) and an organization of substitute teachers. Its primary goal since its founding has been the furthering of the cause of substitute teachers both within the union and before the Board of Education.
But since its founding, S.U.B.S. has also taken up important political issues facing the union, the Board of Education, and the schools. While our primary goal will continue to be the furthering of the basic trade union and economic welfare of substitute teachers, we will continue to take on other issues as well.
The research that went into this pamphlet was done by a number of people, most of whom are members of the American Federation of Teachers. Since the publication of the first installment of the series in Substance in January, 1978, a great amount of information and material has been made available to us. The result has been that the original material—while still accurate in its main lines—has had to be rewritten and expanded. The present work marks a point in the development of our understanding of the questions involved. When we arrived in Boston for the 1977 AFT convention, we did not expect that one year later we would be in the middle of this project.
I apologize for those parts of this pamphlet that may be hard to read. It was hard to write. I hope that as this issue becomes more a matter of debate and record that it will be possible to clarify both the conception and the execution of its thesis. But the thesis, as stated in the title, is unfortunately true. There will be dodges and evasions and, probably ad hominems from both sides. But our job as teachers and unionists is to work for the truth, as well as for the team.
The truth of the history of the AFT will come out. It is today at the same time one of the best unions in this country and one of the worst. We won’t get better by ignoring our weaknesses.
In 1974, the American Federation of Teachers elected Albert Shanker as its president and swept into power the leaders of the Progressive Caucus who still run our union. The incumbent president, David Selden, was defeated by a large majority, despite the fact that he had presided over the greatest period of growth and democratic strength in the union’s history.
I returned to teaching in Chicago and to the union in 1974, four months after that election. At the time I knew nothing about it.
It’s history now, but it may be appropriate to quote David Selden’s nominating speech at the 1974convention to end this introduction. It still rings of the truth, despite four years and many attempts to rewrite our history.
I am running for re-election as president of the AFT and I am running on the ticket of the Coalition for a Democratic Union and urge you to support all the candidates for vice-president on this ticket.
The election is a very fateful one for the AFT. It could, if you vote for my principal opponent, make a change in the direction, a change in the direction of our union at a time when our membership growth is the greatest ever. Our financial condition is the best ever. Our moral influence in the United States and throughout the world is at the pinnacle of success, and yet you are being asked by my principal opponent to change that direction.
Now, what have we done in the past few years that has changed the direction the AFThas taken?
Well, we voted to endorse a presidential candidate, Senator George McGovern, in ’72.
I supported that candidate and I carried out your will and my principal opponent did not.
In ’72 we finally got around to condemning the Vietnam War in spite of all the efforts of my principal opponent to keep us from acting on that question.
Now you trust the convention. I trust you and I follow your mandates.
In ’72 we endorsed the women’s rights amendment, and since that time, I have done everything possible to facilitate AFT preparations in that campaign. I defy my opponent to show a similar record.
Throughout the years, we have been a leader in the civil rights movement. I have, throughout my time in office, constantly expanded the AFT role in civil rights and many times that has been very difficult for my principal opponent.
All of my effort is a matter of record, and efforts to amend or distort it are untrue andcan be easily refuted.
This pamphlet is about some of the things that have changed about the AFT since then.
———— George N. Schmidt, Local 1, 8/14/78
Chapter One: Cooperating Around the World
Direct links between the 430,000 member American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been forged and strengthened since the election of NewYork’s Albert Shanker as AFT national president in 1974. Prior to that time, a number of national union staff members had developed relations with the intelligence agency through the union’s various international affairs programs. Additionally, Shanker’s home local in New York, the huge Local 2 (United Federation of Teachers) had served as a base for CIA related labor activities through the AFTuntil Shanker himself assumed the national presidency. It was not until Shanker’s faction (the Progressive Caucus) took national power, however, that the weight of the teachers union became a full partner in government/CIA international affairs.
The AFT’s CIA connections are carried out through three foundations sponsored by theAFL–CIO, thelargest multinational corporations and the United States government’sAgency for InternationalDevelopment, AID. The oldest of the foundations, theAmerican Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), works in the Latin American nations. The African American Labor Committee (AALC)operates in Africa, while the Asian American Free Labor Institute (AAFLI) works in the non-communist nations of Asia. AFT/CIA connections are also carried out through the International Trade Secretariat for teachers unions, the International Federation of Free Teachers Unions (IFFTU). The IFFTU is one of 16 International Trade Secretariats (OR ITS’s). A number of these predate the cold war and function as multinational unions in the face of the transnational corporations, while a smaller number—particularly those founded after World War II—either cooperate with the U.S. intelligence or were actually established by the CIA itself in cooperation with the AFL and later, the AFL-CIO.
In addition to Shanker himself, national union staff members Al Loewenthal and Anthony DiBlasi carryout international trade union work through the AFT which involves the teachers union both internationally and domestically in U.S. intelligence and State Department activities. Other nationalunion personalities who have participated in these activities include Sandra Feldman, Velma Hill, Ponsie Hillmanand Vito DiLeonardis from Local 2 in New York. Former union staffer Denise Thiry was among the most active of the AFT’s international people until her resignation in 1976. Thiry’s work included cooperation with the U.S. government in the coup d’etat that overthrew the Allende government in Chile in 1973. Before she was exposed as a police spy in Chicago, Sheli Lulkin, who was co-chairperson of the AFT Women’s Rights committee, had also begun to involve herself in international union and “women’s rights” activities. National union figures from Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco have also participated in the international affairs work of AFT since Shanker’s rise to power.
The most important domestic organization outside of the U.S. labor movement which cooperates in intelligence and State Department activities and is influential in the AFT is the Social Democrats-USA (SDUSA), a small “socialist” party based in New York and affiliated with the Social International (the descendant of the Second International). SDUSA members who serve in national leadership posts in the AFT include Albert Shanker, Sandra Feldman, Velma Hill and a significant minority of the union’s national staff members at the AFT offices in Washington, D.C. SDUSA, which operates out of offices in the International Ladies Garment Workers (ILGWU) building in New York, has a membership of less than 5,000 persons. Through its power within the AFL-CIO Executive Council and certain American trade unions, however, and through its connections with the U.S. government’s Cold War activities, its influence far outweighs its numbers in the top echelons of organized labor in America.
From this tiny “socialist” grouping are drawn a number of the intellectual apologists for the AFL-CIO’s Cold War policies and for the CIA’s activities. SDUSA members have secured a number of important staff posts within the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department and in different unions which cooperate in CIA-supported labor activities both at home and abroad. Within its own ranks, the SDUSA includes dozens of members with no direct affiliation to the labor movement whose work aids both public and clandestine foreign policy activity. The most prominent SDUSA members active in these affairs include Tom Kahn, head of the League for Industrial Democracy (an SDUSA affiliate with offices in the same office), who edits the AFL-CIO Free Trade Union News; Bayard Rustin, chairman of SDUSA and a number of other organizations, who serves as an apologist for “labor’s” racial policies; Carl Gershman, whose writings invariably back up AFL-CIO international positions; Thomas Brooks, who concentrates on writing “histories” of American labor from the anti-communist, Cold War perspective; and Norman Hill, director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, which encourages the training of Black labor leaders amendable to the AFL-CIO leadership’s positions.
Allied with the most powerful men and women in the AFL-CIO, the United States government, the transnational corporations, and the CIA, these people are working within the American labor movement to insure the perpetuation of the same Cold War policies that they helped formulate and execute during the last 35 years. The AFT, since 1974, has become their latest ally in that campaign.
Chapter Two: Irving Brown Speaks to the Teachers
The issue of the AFT’s relationship to the CIA and government-sponsored international “labor organization” came to a head during the union’s 61st annual convention in Boston in August, 1977. Prior to that time, Shanker and his aides had been quietly forging the chains that would insure his faction’s dominance in the union and at the same time bind the teachers to government policies both at home and, especially, abroad.
By the summer of 1977, Shanker apparently felt secure enough in his control over the AFT to bring an identified CIA agent, Irving Brown, to speak at the union convention.
Delegates arriving for the 1977 convention found that their official convention program listed the Wednesday luncheon as the “Labor Education Luncheon” featuring Irving Brown, billed as the “AFL-CIO representative in Europe,” as speaker.
Despite the fact that the AFT Black Caucus had spent more than six months preparing for its annual luncheon at the same time, the convention program made no mention of it. Black Caucus leaders arriving in Boston were surprised to find that their time was not even listed in the program, while Brown was prominently featured. The Black Caucus luncheon was to honor Paul Robeson, the famed Afro-American artist, athlete and revolutionary.
The Black caucus and the United Action Caucus (UAC) issued leaflets urging the delegates to “Boycott CIA goods” and attend the Robeson tribute instead. The UAC leaflet detailed Brown’s CIA affiliations. In the controlled atmosphere of the AFT conventions, many honest delegates are afraid of openly opposing the policies of the leadership on the floor or in their voting. Important votes are published and members who vote “wrong” are subject to reprisals. Nevertheless, the boycott was a success. On August 17, 1977, the morning of Brown’s scheduled speech, President Shanker announced that the Labor Education luncheon had been rescheduled to a smaller room. Efforts to give away the $7.50 tickets had failed. Rather than risk the embarrassment of a small turnout in a large room, Shanker fit the room to the expected crowd.
Interestingly, the Black Caucus leadership had been told that the minimum they could charge for their affair and still make a profit was $12.50. Tickets to the Labor Education Luncheon, on the other hand, were being sold for $7.50. Nevertheless, the Black Caucus tribute drew 50 more persons than the Brown speech and the crowd stayed despite delays in the main speech caused by a “malfunctioning” in the sound system.
Irving Brown: From Communist to CIA
Irving Brown has been working with the CIA since the agency’s founding in 1947. He has been described by European trade union leaders as “Meany’s Man in Europe” and the “CIA man in European labor.” Prior to 1947, Brown had worked with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) cooperating with the anti-fascist underground in Europe during World War II. Prior to that, Brown had been an American Communist and, during the 1930’s, a member of the “Lovestonites,” a small American communist group formed by former Communist Party secretary Jay Lovestone after his expulsion from the CP-USA in 1929.
During the war, Brown’s work against the Nazis and their allies had an additional goal: fighting the Soviet Union and preventing the spread of its influence during the war and in the post-war period.
It was difficult to organize for the Cold War while Russia was still America’s main ally in Europe. It was additionally difficult to organize against the Communists when the majority of those who were actually fighting fascism (and had been doing so since the Spanish Civil War and before) were Communists. While many members of the middle and upper classes in the occupied countries either endured the Nazi occupation or openly collaborated with them (like the Vichy government in France), it was the communists, some of the socialists, and their allies that formed the active core of the resistance movements in occupied Europe.
Furthermore, it was the Soviet Union, through the Red Army, that first stopped the Wehrmacht in 1942 and had turned around the fascist military before the other allies landed at Normandy in June, 1944.The European left—in both Eastern and Western Europe—emerged from the war with the prestige of the resistance to its credit. To this, the Communists added the prestige of the Red Army’s victories over the Nazi machine on the Eastern Front. The Cold War was not a hot commodity in Europe at the end of World War II.
Jay Lovestone, the Ladies Garment Workers Union, and the “Free Trade Union Committee”
But the Cold War was already on the agenda for Irving Brown, Jay Lovestone, and a core of professional anti-communists in the American Federation of Labor (AFL). At the beginning of the war, David Dubinsky, President of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), a former socialist who had served time in Czarist prisons before migrating to America from Poland in 1911, sponsored the “Free Trade Union Committee” at the ILGWU offices in New York. Head of the Committee was Jay Lovestone, who had been head of the CPUSA until 1929.
American Communism had arisen after the end of World War I in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. After the CPUSA was consolidated in the mid-1920’s, Lovestone, like a number of other young intellectuals in the party, had risen quickly. Dominated by intense faction fighting throughout the decade, the party was split a number of times according to American conditions and, more importantly, the struggle for power within the Soviet Union.
Lovestone’s leadership position was assured by 1927 when his clout, Nicholai Bukharin, helped to defeat the “Trotskyists” and Leon Trotsky was exiled. The split with the Trotskyists reflected itself in the first major split in American Communism when James Cannon, Max Shachtman, and Martin Abern formed a faction which supported Trotsky’s position and were expelled from the CPUSA. Cannon, Abern, and Shachtman formed an organization of American Trotskyists which first claimed to be an “opposition” within the CPUSA, although the CPUSA had kicked them out. After the defeat of the left in Germany and the consolidation of Hitler’s power, the Trotskyists declared themselves independent of the CP. In 1938, they founded the Socialist Workers Party. During World War II, the Trotskyists themselves split, with Shachtman forming the Workers Party. Shachtman’s group would later become involved in the same kind of “international trade union work” as the Lovestonites, but their influencewas less important than Lovestone’s and will be dealt with later.
Unfortunately for Lovestone, Bukharin’s star had reached its zenith. By 1928, Bukharin and the so-called “right opposition” were under attack within the Soviet Union and through the Communist International, the Comintern. In 1929, Lovestone was personally unseated by Joseph Stalin. Upon his return to America, he reorganized his friends into Communist Party (Opposition), which functioned throughout the 1930’s as the CP (Opposition) and later as the Independent Labor League.
While still members of the Communist Party, a number of future Lovestonites within the ILGWU had carried out a faction fight which dominated the union’s internal politics during the 1920’s. Finally defeated by ILGWU president Morris Sigman, the Communists, according to a change in party line in the late 1920’s, established independent unions to compete with the AFL unions. Sigman’s lieutenant during the so-called Civil War within the ILGWU was Secretary-Treasurer David Dubinsky, a rightwing Socialist who would become the union’s president in 1930.
Part of Dubinsky’s genius as an anti-communist has been his willingness to bring ex-communists into the union fold. After he established his power in the union in 1931, he personally supported the seating of Charles Zimmerman, a Lovestonite who had been one of the fiercest factionalists during his tenure within the CP, as a delegate to the union’s national convention. Throughout his career, Dubinsky has shown his willingness to welcome talented ex-communists into his wing of the trade union movement, and the proof of his practice has been their success. Ex-communists became the fiercest anti-communists within both the American and world labor movements during and after World War II. And the most important of the ex-communists sponsored by Dubinsky was Jay Lovestone.
The “Free Trade Union Committee” (FTUC) was established in 1943 within the ILGWU. It quickly became influential within the AFL as a whole, through the work of Dubinsky and then-AFL Secretary-Treasurer George Meany. Within the next decade, it had secured a permanent place for itself with the AFL in Washington and Lovestone had once again become a commissar. This time, he was an anti-communist commissar.
The FTUC’s propaganda within the American labor movement called for both a cold war and a hot one against the Soviet Union while Russia was still our strongest ally in the fight against Nazism. Working with Meany and AFT vice president Matthew Woll, Lovestone’s former communist troops began functioning internationally during World War II. Although Irving Brown was by far the most important among them, three others were to play major roles in the labor wings of the Cold War. Serafino Romualdi, who had worked with the Italian language ILGWU newspaper before the war, becameLovestone’s man in Latin America. Richard Deverall worked Asia, and Henry Rutz was to become the special AFL representative in Germany after the war.
By the early 1950’s, when the Cold War was reaching its zenith, Lovestone had final say over all U.S.labor representatives overseas.
In discussing the work of Irving Brown and the role of the CIA in the American labor movement, it would be incorrect to claim that the CIA “subverted” American labor either at home or abroad during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Rather, the agency was invited in through the front door by man like Meany, Dubinsky and Lovestone, who were pushing for the Cold War long before it was fashionable. At the same time, it would be equally wrong to claim that this “relationship”—which has largely gone on behind the scenes both domestically and internationally—was healthy for the American labor movement or trade unionism around the world. Once inside labor’s tent, the CIA became the camel that wouldn’t leave.
The Work of Irving Brown in Europe
After the establishment of the Free Trade Union Committee in 1943, Lovestone began building the network that would have such vast influence in the post war arena. With the beginning of the Cold War in 1946 and 1947, the TFUC with ample money from the newly-formed CIA and other government agencies, along with some funds from the AFL, set out to split the European trade union movement, insure the correct line among European labor leaders, and establish anti-communist unionism along the lines of the AFL.
Brown was the main man in Europe. By all accounts, he was indefatigable. Tom Braden, now a syndicated newspaper columnist but at the time head of the CIA’s International Organizations Division, stated:
On the desk in front of me as I write these lines is a creased and faded yellow paper. It bears the inscription in pencil: ‘Received from Warren G. Haskins, 15,000, (signed) Norris A. Grambe.’
I was Warren G. Haskins. Norris A. Grambe was Irving Brown of the American Federation of Labor. The 15,000 was from the vaults of the CIA….
It was my idea to give the 15,000 to Irving Brown. He needed it to pay off his strong-arm squads in the Mediterranean ports, so that American supplies could be unloaded against the opposition of communist dock workers. It was also my idea to give cash, along with advice, to other labor leaders, to students, professors, and others who could help the United States in its battle with communist fronts….
In 1947 the Communist Confederation General de Travail led a strike in Paris which came very near to paralyzing the French economy….
Into this crisis stepped Lovestone and his assistant, Irving Brown. With funds from Dubinsky’s union, they organized Force Ouvriere, a non-communist union. When they ran out of money, they appealed to the CIA. Thus began the secret subsidy of free trade unions which soon spread to Italy….
The first rule of our operational plan was ‘Limit the money to amounts private organizations can credibly spend.’ The other rules were equally obvious. ‘Use legitimate, existing organizations; disguise the extent of American interest; protect the integrity of the organization by not requiring it to support every aspect of official American policy.’
— (from “I’m Glad the CIA is Immoral,” by Thomas Braden, Saturday Evening Post, May20, 1967.)
While the CIA was cooperating with the AFL directly, it was working to split the CIO as a prelude to “merger” and “labor unity.” The split in the CIO was engineered by labor lawyer Arthur Goldberg, who had directed OSS labor operations during World War II and who worked with the CIA afterwards. Goldberg, a card carrying liberal all his life, later went on to become Secretary of Labor, SupremeCourt Justice, and United States Ambassador to the United Nations. But in 1949, his job was to organize the expulsion of ten “communist dominated” unions from the CIO.
In the same article, Braden reported that Victor Reuther, brother of United Auto Workers president Walter Reuther and head of the UAW International division, had acted as a courier for CIA money after the war. Despite the split between the AFL and the CIO in America, the CIA was willing to “cooperate” with labor leaders who were willing to cooperate with it. Reuther later repudiated the CIA. Brown never did.
Brown’s “strong arm squads” were organized into a “union” called Force Ouvriere (FO) in France. FO had emerged from World War II as a small, anti-communist union composed primarily of white collar workers. Through an organization called the “Mediterranean Committee,” Brown and his minions brought in members of the Sicilian Mafia to break strikes in post war France. The issue at the time was Marshall Plan aid, which the communist unions were opposing.
One of the most important jobs of the Mediterranean Committee was to gain control of the docks of Marseilles, where Brown’s mafia thugs broke the strike, killing a number of dockworkers and labor leaders in the process. The intervention of Brown and his labor “organizers” is one of the first examples of “dirty tricks” used by the CIA in the international labor movement.
The situation in Marseilles became so rough that the leftist mayor of the city appealed for help from the national government, protesting the work of Brown and his friends.
Brown’s work had been supported with AFL money funneled through the FTUC even before the founding of the CIA. In a March 14, 1946 letter to Jay Lovestone, he stated that he needed $100,000 to continue his work to split the French trade union federation, the CGT, but that he could “make do” with$10,000. He got it with the help of Lovestone, Woll, Dubinsky, and Meany. After the CIA was formed and the Cold War begun in earnest, the original money Brown demanded would seem like chickenfeed. Braden estimated that between $2 million and $5 million went into the effort by the mid-1950’s.Drew Pearson estimated $100 million!
At the same time that he was working behind the scenes to support Force Ouvriere and similar operations on the continent, Brown also functioned directly as a representative of American labor in European conferences.
A fierce faction fight developed within the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), which had been formed by the Soviet Union, the trade unions of a number of European countries, and, most importantly, the British trade unions and the CIO after the war. The AFL’s goal was to split the WFTU in the same way it worked to split the CGT in France.
Brown was appointed representative from the International Association of Machinists (IAM) in 1948 to the executive committee of the International Metalworkers Federation, one of the International Trade Secretariats mentioned in the introduction to this pamphlet. Brown’s job was to build trade union support for the Marshall Plan, which the Soviet Union and the WFTU opposed. After more than a year of high level wheeling and dealing, the WFTU was split. In 1949, a Free World Labor Conference with delegates from 59 countries formed the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). Brown participated as a representative of the Metalworkers.
One of the constant criticisms made by American labor leaders and right wingers of the WFTU is that itis an agency of the Soviet government and is controlled by the Soviet Secret Police (now know as the KGB).
These same leaders generally neglect to mention that their own “free” labor movement has been similarly controlled by the American Secret Police, the CIA. For the first 15 years of its existence, the ICFTU could be counted on to push the Cold War line of the U.S. government. When it failed to do so and criticized the United States for the Vietnam War, the AFL-CIO withdrew from it. By 1968, the “free” trade union confederation had become too free for the Americans.
A similar response was taken by the AFL-CIO in 1977 when the International Labor Organization (ILO) began adopting policies critical of Israeli treatment of Arab labor. In November, 1977, the AFL-CIO and its other American partners in the ILO officially withdrew the U.S. government’s delegation from the organization. According to U.S. representative to the ILO during his speech to the American Federation of Teachers in August, 1977, the ILO had become “too political.”
A number of ex-CIA agents have identified Brown’s relationship to the CIA. It has gotten to the point where he doesn’t even bother to deny the fact. In his book, Inside the Company, a CIA Diary, Phillip Agee (who has been forced into exile because of his revelations) identifies Brown as the “principal agent for control of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).” Julius Mader ’s book, Who’s Who in the CIA? lists Brown in some detail. More importantly, perhaps, virtually every trade union leader in Europe associates Brown with the CIA. Even those who support the “free trade union” anti-communist ideas that Brown has pushed admit that his ties extend much further and deeper than the AFL-CIO.
Nevertheless, the leaders of the AFT in 1977 thought enough of their control of their union (and so little of its members) that they felt confident in listing Brown on the convention program as “AFL-CIO Representative in Europe.”
In the pages that follow, we will discuss the CIA’s ties with the foundations (AIFLD, AALC, and AAFLI) that are now actively supported by our union. Finally we will return to the questions raised by the AFT, Irving Brown, and CIA unionism.
One of the main questions that needs to be raised in every step of this investigation is “Where does the money come from?” Those who read the book or saw the movie All the President’s Men remember Deep Throat’s admonition to the reporters: “Follow the money.”
Unfortunately, in dealing with CIA conduits and CIA money nowadays things are not as simple as they were 15 or 20 years ago. Prior to the social upheavals in the United States in the 1960’s, the CIA generally followed Braden’s scheme of funneling money through legitimate fronts or setting up quasi legitimate organizations to act as conduits. The ILGWU, the Jewish Labor Committee, and a number of other organizations laundered CIA money on the way to Brown and his friends at the beginning of the Cold War.
Embarrassing revelations of this practice during the 1960’s caused a change in the CIA’s modus operandi in money matters. When it was discovered that CIA money was being funneled into student groups, professional associations, and labor unions through CIA dummy “foundations,” the practice was reorganized. The National Student Association revelations and the exposure of CIA funding for the Congress for Cultural Freedom ended the days of the foundation, as far as can be determined.
Since that time, overseas funding for special projects has been channeled through United States government agencies. The most prominent of these is the Agency for International Development (AID), which is used to provide cover for both CIA money and CIA operatives around the world today. Norris Grambe no longer signs receipts for money from Warren Haskins today. But Norris’ dollars— and he has always had more than enough of them—come from the same “vaults” referred to in Braden’s article.
Chapter Three: The American Institute for Free LaborDevelopment (AIFLD)
The American Institute for Free Labor Development(AIFLD) is the oldest, largest, and wealthiest of the three international labor organizations founded by the AFL-CIO in the 1960’s. It is aimed at Latin America.
AIFLD was founded in 1962 as a non-profit corporation. George Meany is president; J. Peter Grace of W. R. Grace & Co. is Chairman of the Board. According to Fred Hirsch’s excellent pamphlet Under the Covers with the CIA: An Analysis of Our AFL-CIO Role in Latin America:
Originally an educational project, AIFLD now operates in several other elds—social projects, credit facilities, social action and “community development.”
The educational phase of the operation is massive. In Colombia and Peru, it has trained as much as 5% of the union membership—far exceeding any AFL-CIO training program in the U.S. In local seminars, people are chosen to participate in area-wide and nationwide seminars; from these are selected the most likely people (often they are not even trade unionists) who are offered a three-month course in AIFLD’s training center at Front Royal, Virginia. During this time the trainee’s family receives a stipend and the trainee gets a per diem payment in excess of what he or she would earn on the job.When the Front Royal course is completed, trainees are returned home where they continue on the AIFLD payroll for at least an additional nine months.
During their nine months of post graduate work, AIFLD’s trainees are called “interns.”
AIFLD’s educational programs teach trade union history; time and motion study; cooperatives; credit unions; and “Political systems: democracy and totalitarianism.” AIFLD’s social programs include housing projects. A 1968 Senate study found that the strings AIFLD attached to its housing grants were “too high a price to pay” for many Latin American unions. AIFLD demands complete control over the project.
By 1967, AIFLD’s annual budget was over $6 million. More than 90% of this came from the United States Agency for International Development (AID), with the rest coming from AFL-CIO unions and the corporations on the AIFLD Board of Directors.
The interest of the American labor movement in Latin America began under AFL president Samuel Gompers in the first decades of this century. It was not until the establishment of the Free Trade Union Committee during World War II and its evolution into the AFL (and, later, the AFL-CIO) International Affairs Department, however, that Latin American affairs for American labor were locked into the ColdWar.
Serafino Romualdi was Jay Lovestone’s commissar in Latin America until his death ten years ago.During the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Romualdi worked through the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and various cooperative International Trade Secretariats to carry out Cold War policy in the name of American labor. Romualdi’s first job south of the border was to split the Latin American labor movement the same way Brown had split the European movement. In 1946, Romualdi reported to the AFL convention that U.S. government policy-makers, a number of whom opposed his work, were “If not openly allied, they are definitely supporting groups in Latin America who are enemies of the American way of life and who are followers of the Communist Party line.”
It is worth noting that Romualdi’s charges of “Communists in the State Department” came five years before Sen. Joseph McCarthy revealed his famous “list” that nobody ever saw. Romualdi’s threat had its effect. The Free Trade Union Committee and the AFL began receiving government support, while the Latin American Confederation of Labor (CTAL), which had the support of the CIO, came under attack. By 1948 the labor movement was split and minorities from unions in 17 countries formed the Inter-American Confederation of Labor (CIT). Romualdi’s work was exactly paralleling Brown’s.
By 1949,Arthur Goldbergand his friends in the CIO had split it, forcing the expulsion or disaffiliation of the so-called “communist dominated” unions. The CIO split with CTAL and lined up behind the CIT. The CIT became the “Pan American” branch of the ICFTU. The new organization was the Inter-American Organization of Workers (ORIT).
ORIT became so identified with U.S. policy that it outlived its usefulness in Latin America within the decade. In 1968, a staff report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations stated:
…there seems to be a decline in ORIT prestige in Latin America. More fundamental, perhaps, has been the tendency of ORIT to support U.S. government policy in Latin America. ORIT endorsed the overthrow of theArbenz regime (in 1954) in Guatemala and of the Goulart regime (in 1964) in Brazil. It supported Burnham over Cheddi Jagan in Guyana, and it approved the U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic. To many Latin Americans, this looks like ORIT is an instrument of the U.S. State Department….
Since the death of Romualdi, the AFL-CIO has been represented in ORIT byAndrew McLellan of the International Affairs Department. But the Department’s main concern has been with AIFLD, not ORIT, since the early 1960’s.
Fred Hirsch cites two examples of Romualdi’s work through ORIT in the 1950’s: Cuba and Guatemala. Prior to the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Romualdi backed the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC). In exchange for the right to exist, the CTC gave silent support to the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The leader of the CTC, Eusabio Mujal, kept a lid on Cuban labor for Batista by suspending union elections, removing opposition leaders from union office, opposing strikes and arranging for dues checkoff favors from the dictatorship. After Romualdi failed to make a deal with Fidel Castro, he and his faction in the CTC turned against the new government. When the new leadership came into power in the CTC after the revolution, Romualdi declared it a totalitarian union federation and supported the Cuban unions in exile in Miami.
Five years before the Cuban Revolution, ORIT assisted an admitted CIA operation in Guatemala. In 1954, Jacobo Arbenz was elected president of Guatemala and began a program of land reform programs which threatened the interests of the United Fruit Company. Prior to his election, Arbenz had full union support. Romualdi tried to organize a dual union federation and failed. His protégés then joined General Carlos Castillo Armas in organizing a CIA army In Nicaragua (with the help of, among others, E. Howard Hunt). Armas organized a coup d’etat which overthrew the Arbenz regime.Romualdi returned to Guatemala to “reorganize” the labor movement. George Meany announced that the “AFL rejoices in the downfall of the Communist controlled regime.” United Fruit kept its plantation. Interestingly, the same CIA bases used to train the Armas forces were used almost ten years later to train Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs invasion.
While ORIT was running out of credibility in Latin America, various International Trade Secretariats (ITS’s) under the CIA wing were gaining. The most important of these in the 1950’s were the Postal,Telephone, and Telegraph International (PTTI), the Public Service International (PSI), and the International Federation of Petroleum and Chemical Workers (IFPCW).
The ITS’s in the Western Hemisphere had worked closely with the ICFTU and ORIT throughout the1950’s. The American affiliates of the various secretariats represented the affiliation (and political orientation) within the AFL-CIO.
The Public Services International (PSI) played the leading role in the 1964 overthrow of the government of Cheddi Jagan in British Guiana. Six AIFLD “interns” were delegated to work full time on the political general strike that finally brought down the government. Another American active in the overthrow of Jagan was Gene Meakins, who went to the country in 1963 at the request of the Guiana Trades Union Council (TUC) as a representative of the Inter-American Federation of Working Newspapermen’s Organizations, an ORIT affiliate. Meakins, who was given a leave of absence from the UPI office in Denver, served as “Public Relations Advisor” to the TUC during the destabilization period prior to Jagan’s ouster.
Arnold Zander , former president of the American Federation of State, County, and MunicipalEmployees (AFSCME), later admitted using AFSCME and the PSI as a conduit for CIA funds during the chaos that brought down Jagan.Howard McCabe,Zander’s man in Guiana, received $450,000 funneled through AFSCME to help finance the strike in Georgetown.
AFSCME’s CIA connectionswere one of the factors that led to Zander’s ouster as national president by Jerry Wurf in 1964. Reflecting on the internal fight within AFSCME later, Wurf stated that Zander’s faction “spent very large sums of money. I believe I can make a strong case that it came from the CIA….” The campaign to defeat Wurf and his ticket even involved “dirty tricks.” A number of anonymous leaflets appeared. According to Wurf:
They [the Zander people] did other outrageous things. Some leaflets appeared, and though they could not be attributed to anyone, they had the professional touch. In one case the leafletter, one of their guys from New England, emphasized my big nose in anamateurish appeal to anti-Semitism….
Down south they circulated a picture of me handing a check to Roy Wilkins , head of the NAACP….
Despite the dirty tricks, Wurf and his supporters won the election. After they took over the union’s offices, one of their first jobs was to sever the CIA tie:
When Wurf first arrived at AFSCME headquarters following the ’64 convention, he noticed the presence of what he describes as “trench coat types.” One of these men was AFSCME’s alternate representative to the PSI, Howard McCabe. When the new president tried to nd out from McCabe and his associates exactly what they were doing in the building, he received vague explanations, and was advised to be patient and wait for the proper time to ask questions.
(Billings and Greenya, Power to the Public Worker, pp. 146-147)
Wurf and his people decided to ask the CIA to leave. In 1966, the New York Times revealed that AFSCME, the Newspaper Guild, and the International Federation of Petroleum and Chemical Workers had been conduits for CIA funds and sponsors of CIA programs.
A similar relationship developed during the 1950’s between the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and ITS, the Postal, Telephone and Telegraph International (PTTI), and the CIA. In the case of the CWA, however, internal politics did not produce Jerry Wurf and his movement for union reform. Instead the CWA, PTTI, and the AFL-CIO produced the American Institute for Free Labor Development, AIFLD.
After a stormy beginning out of a federation of company unions in the Bell Telephone system, the CWA was born in 1947. Its predecessor, the National Federation of Telephone Workers (NFTW), had been founded in 1939 and had grown in strength and militancy during and after the Second World War. By 1947, the federation had changed its name to the Communications Workers of America, an industrial union embracing the majority of workers in the Bell system and its affiliates. The NFTW had not affiliated with either the AFL or the CIO. In 1949, the CWA affiliated with the CIO, largely because the AFL had persisted in raiding CWA union locals through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
The CWA’s rise to prominence among “free trade unions” did not begin until after the merger of the AFL and CIO in 1955. A faction fight within the leadership in 1956 found CWA president Joseph Beirne, a former Western Electric worker in New Jersey and one of the founders of the union, facing ared baiting challenge from vice president A. T. Jones. Jones charged Beirne with “defending communists.” Beirne’s campaign was waged around his record and the question of free speech for a union member from Milwaukee who had been affiliated with the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party.
Beirne campaigned as an enemy of “totalitarianism” who refused to “practice totalitarianism within the union.” He won. After the election, the entire Jones faction was reintegrated into CWA leadership and Beirne faced no further challenge from then until his death in 1974.
The origins of AIFLD lie in the relationship between the CWA and the PTTI. According to Thomas Brooks, a writer for the SDUSA newspaper New America, and author of a recent history of the CWA:
CWA deeds have given life to CWA words in a way that is unique among unions. It has been active in the Postal, Telegraph and Telephone International (PTTI), a trade union secretariat representing telecommunications workers in all parts of the free world.
In 1959, however, CWA developed a unique program to give substance to its commitment to free trade unionism. CWA president Beirne, vice president RayHackney and Louis B. Knecht, then director District 9, initiated a project to provide direct, voluntary assistance from CWA District 9 locals to communications workers unionization efforts in Ecuador. Eighty locals pledged two dollars a month, which allowed Jose M. (Pepe) Larco, now the general secretary of the Ecuadorean Federation of Telecommunications Workers, to work full time as a union organizer in his country. Since then, CWA’s Operation South America has grown, sustaining union activities in thirteen different Latin American and Caribbean countries with all of CWA’s twelve districts involved.
(Brooks, Communications Workers of America, pp. 239-240).
“Pepe” looks different from Ecuador. During the 1950’s the nation had its first decade of civilian rule unpunctured by coups d’etat. In 1960, president Velasco Ibarra was re-elected president on a nationalist and anti-Yanqui platform. Refusing to break diplomatic relations with Cuba, he attempted to institute moderate reforms in the economy. His attempted populism could not solve the nation’s crisis, however. From 1961-63, the country swung to the left. Velasco was dumped by the Armed Forces and Carlos Julio Arosemena was recognized as his constitutional successor. Arosemena continued relations with Cuba and instituted radical land reform. He had the support of the majority of the peasants and the unions, with the exception of the small, “free trade union federation,” the Ecuadorean Federation of Free Trade Unions, or CEOSL.
In 1962, Arosemena was ordered by the military to break off relations with Cuba or be deposed. He did. Nevertheless, the following year, he offered a toast at a banquet honoring the president of GraceLines, Admiral McNeil:
To the people of the United States, but not to its government, which exploits the peopleof Latin America.
At dawn the next day, the presidential palace was surrounded by tanks.
Ecuador has had three trade union federations. The Ecuadorean Workers Federation (CTE) with 40,000 members in 800 unions, is close to the Ecuadorean Communist Party. The Catholic trade union federation, the Ecuadorean Confederation of Working Class Organizations (CEDOC), was originally anti-communist and conservative based in the Church and the Conservative Party. In recent years, it has taken a number of stands placing to the left of the CTE. The third federation is the CEOSL.
Pepe Larco’s telecommunications workers are affiliated with CEOSL. After the 1963 coup d’etat, both the CTE and CEDOC militants were persecuted by the junta. CEOSL received the same consideration from Ecuador’s right wing dictators that the Cuban Workers Federation received from Batista.
Out of the cooperation between the CWA, PTTI, and Larco came the idea for the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD).
In cooperation with the PTTI, CWA established a school for Latin American unionistsat Front Royal, Virginia. At the first graduation ceremony, AFL-CIO president George Meany, CWA president Beirne and a few others gathered around the same table and had an idea which became the American Institute for Free Labor Development organized under the aegis of the AFL-CIO.
Now in its fifteenth year, AIFLD graduates approximately 150 students a year who return to their countries with invaluable know-how about union organizing and union operations. CWA’s Operation South America, its involvement with PTTI, its support of Soviet dissidents, commitment to Israel and other democratic forces opposed to Soviet aggression and totalitarianism in all its forms is rooted in a deep concern, perhaps best expressed by AFL-CIO president Meany when he declared, ‘We feel that unless there is a free trade union movement, there’s always a danger of people losing their freedom—of people becoming chattels or becoming slaves or becoming colonial assets, as it were, of imperialist countries.’
(Brooks, p. 240)
AIFLD At Work
AIFLD is what the AFL-CIO’s International Affairs Department people call a “tripartite” organization.Tripartism means that business, labor and government are all represented on AIFLD. That’s supposed to insure that things are worked out cooperatively, rather than through strikes and what has been called “class struggle.” AIFLD is the embodiment on the international level of the AFL-CIO’s philosophy of collective bargaining and “cooperation.” This has been called class collaboration.
In practice, tripartism has worked out quite well for the governments and corporations which don’t want their countries disrupted by class struggle. In theory , it is supposed to benefit the working peopleof the country as well.
AIFLD is jointly sponsored by the AFL-CIO, 95 transnational corporations, and the U.S. government. As we noted earlier, Meany is president and J. Peter Grace is Chairman of the Board. Mr. Grace is also chief executive of W. R. Grace & Co. W. R. Grace runs Grace Lines, among other enterprises. A military coup d’etat ousted Ecuadorean president Arosemena the morning after he insulted the president of Grace Lines in 1963. As AIFLD has proven over the years, it’s not nice to fool with tripartism.
A list of AIFLD’s corporate sponsors includes International Telephone & Telegraph, the various Rockefeller interests, the copper companies, and virtually every major transnational corporation with large interests in Latin America.
Like ORIT before it, AIFLD has come to be identified with right wing juntas, exploitation, and “Yanqui imperialism” south of the border. During its 16 year history, AIFLD has given enough evidence to support that charge. At the same time, it has poured out tons of propaganda talking about its good works for the consumption of North Americans who ask about it. AIFLD has also worked with the CIA.
The Money Behind AIFLD
According to AIFLD’s own documents, 92% of its budget comes from the United States Agency for International Development(USAID). That’s not the CIA. Or is it?
By the end of the 1950’s, the heyday of direct CIA subsidies to trade unions and other “free world” projects was coming to an end. In the ‘50’s, Tom Braden could funnel CIA money to Irving Brown and the others in the Free Trade Union Committee through organizations like the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, the Jewish Labor Committee, and scores of “charitable” and “cultural” organizations. At the same time, the CIA established a number of dummy foundations around the country to give “grants” to worthy causes.
Conduits and grants through proprietary foundations became dangerous for the CIA. They could be uncovered by curious journalists, resulting in embarrassment to the recipients, who had been parading around the world as disinterested spokespeople for freedom.
When the National Education Association (NEA), the National Student Association (NSA), the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and a number of other organizations were exposed in the 1960’s as having received CIA money, a new tactic was needed. (Interestingly, it was the American Federation of Teachers that was one of the most vociferous critics of the NEA’s CIA connection when it came out.) The NSA lost all credibility on college campuses when Ramparts magazine blew its cover.
Exposures have continued to today. In December, 1977, the New York Times devoted four days of feature articles to the CIA’s manipulation of journalists and the media.
As a result, AID became the new “cut out” through which CIA money could be funneled to worthy causes. A broad range of good will programs serves as cover for the nuts and bolts of the operation. When things are going well, AIFLD is spending AID money to shore up “free trade unions” in such “free world” showplaces as Brazil, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, etc. In countries run by rightwing dictatorships, the only unions allowed to function are AIFLD-sponsored “free trade unions,” and since “free trade unionism” has to be cleared with the International Affairs Department of the AFL-CIO, these countries are really free. George Meany has said at least a hundred times that the degree of freedom in a country can be judged by whether it has a “free trade union movement.”
Chile is a good example. In 1973, Chile lost its democratically-elected President and regained its “free trade union movement” with the help of AIFLD, the Pentagon, the Chilean oligarchy, the right wing of the Catholic Church, and a group of freedom loving generals who proceeded to execute at least 30,000 people, most of them trade unionists.
AIFLD and Chile
By the early 1970’s, the CIA hadn’t had a good coup d’etat in Latin America in almost a decade. There had been a number of small actions since the Dominican Republic was “saved” in 1965, but the last really big event was the coup in Brazil in 1964 which overthrew the Goulart regime and installed the beginning of a series of dictatorships that have made Brazil one of the safest places for investment in Latin America. AIFLD, by the way, bragged that its interns had helped.
As early as 1962, AIFLD was active in Chile. William C. Doherty, Jr. (son of the president of the Mail Handlers Union) led a delegation from AIFLD that met with Chilean labor leaders and offered loans for housing and coops. Doherty was followed by John Snyder and Ester Cantu of PTTI, who set out to organize telephone workers. The thing was, the telephone workers of Chile already had a union, the militant Union of Telephone Employees. Snyder and Cantu were unphased. They were out to organize a “free trade union” along the lines of Ecuador.
They got help from International Telephone and Telegraph, which runs the telephone system in Chile. They were given a list of company employees by the company. According to Fred Hirsch, “When Doherty’s people won the next union election, the company saw to it that the former militants of the Union of Telephone Employees were fired.” Again, free trade unionism meant dual unionism and company unionism. In this case, however, AIFLD’s company union went too far. In 1967 it was kicked out in another election. ITT could no longer deal with one of its partners in progress and had to deal with a union of the telephone workers.
On a larger scale, AIFLD employed the dual union tactic used in so many other countries. In 1962, AFL-CIO representative Morris Paladino went to Chile to make a deal with Jose Goldsack, a leader of the minority Christian Democratic faction of the Central Confederation of Workers (CUT). The tactic was to split the CUT convention. The tiny National Confederation of Workers (CNT) and its largest member, the Maritime Confederation of Chile (COMACH) were to demand admission to the CUT convention. Paladino was to supply all back dues. If they were denied entry, it was to signal a mass withdrawal of the minority. Paladino would pay the rent on a new hall and the first expenses of a new labor federation devoid of leftists.
The deal fell through when Goldsack backed out of the plan. But neither COMACH nor the CNT would disappear. Today the CNT is the Chilean “labor movement”—with the blessings of the junta. But that’s getting ahead of the story.
Throughout the 1960’s AIFLD continued to work among the small unions of the CNT, while the CUT continued to grow. In 1967, the CIA worked overtime to insure the re-election of Christian Democratic President Eduardo Frei, who was glad for the help in defeating the Popular Unity Coalition which was backing Salvador Allende. This program of the CIA was disclosed by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in its recent hearings on the CIA.
By 1970, however, Frei’s solutions to Chile’s problems had failed, and the Chilean people elected Allende with a plurality of the vote (it was a three way race). The Popular Unity Coalition was in power, despite some discussion within the U.S. government of a coup d’etat. It was decided to wait.
During the wait, however, the United States undertook a campaign to “destabilize” the Allende government. The destabilization campaign was planned by the top level “40 Committee” under the direction of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger . The campaign had a number of elements ranging from the establishment of right wing, paramilitary gangs (called “Patria y Libertad”), cultivation of the military leadership, and labor activity. AIFLD coordinated the labor end of the plan.
While virtually all economic aid and loans to the Chilean government were cut off and the U.S. insured that the International Monetary Fund blacklisted the Chileans, two programs increased: military training for Chilean officers and AIFLD for “Chilean workers.”
Since September 11, 1973, it’s been clear what the military aid was for. It’s been more difficult to get information on how AID’s $1 million in “technical assistance” was spent during that time.
The number of Chileans trained by AIFLD increased 400% in the year prior to the coup!
Who was trained and what was the nature of their training?
Chile: Bosses Become ‘Workers’
In 1972, the AIFLD ten year report stated that COMACH, the Chilean Maritime Federation, was “the major labor organization with which AIFLD cooperates.” Hirsch quotes Professor Nef, a professor of political science at the University of California at Santa Barbara, on the nature of COMACH:
Its membership is largely maritime ofcers, many of whom served as ofcers in the Navy. Even those without naval background spend their first year of training in classes with naval officers.
The officers of the Chilean Navy —with many heroic exceptions—were among the first to move against Allende on the day of the coup d’etat. Not so coincidentally, the U.S. Navy had ships on maneuvers off the coast of Chile on the day of the coup. Other professional employees associations which were active during the period of destabilization included the Mining Engineers, the Airline Pilots, and the independent truckers.
With more than 2,000,000 members by the time of the coup, the Chilean Confederation of Workers (CUT) had come a long way since the days when Morris Paladino tried to split it. Nevertheless, during the time when CUT was organizing the vast majority of Chilean workers into its affiliated unions, AIFLD sponsored the establishment of a Confederation of Chilean Professionals (CUPROCH). CUPROCH was brought into international prominence when its affiliate among independent truckers staged a “shut down” in October, 1972. During the shut down, the truckers were reported by Time magazine correspondent Rudolph Rausch to be doing quite well—for strikers. Eating a meal of steak, vegetables, and empanadas, the truckers bragged they were getting their money from the CIA.
Many of the “strikes” which disrupted the Chilean economy during the period of destabilization were organized by professional associations, not by trade unions. Playing on the ambiguity of the meaning of the word “gremio,” the Chilean professional associations formed “The National Command for Gremio Defense.” In Spanish, gremio can mean either “union” or “guild.” According to Hirsch, “In Chile, a Gremio is usually an association of employers, professionals, or tradespeople, but it can include both workers and employers.”
Hirsch lists the following leaders of the National Command:
- Confederation of Production and Commerce. George Fontaine, president, comes from one of the wealthiest oligarch families. He was once publicly associated with the Nazi movement.
- Society of Manufacturers, Orlando Saenz, president, “reputed to be the brain behind the Gremio defense; served as liaison with the U.S. Embassy and was a secret director of Patria y Libertad, the fascist para-military organization.
- National Society of Agriculture. Manuel Valdes, president of the Federation of Unions of Agricultural Employers (COSEMACH), organized road blocks in the countryside to prevent land reform. AIFLD trustee William Thayer helped establish COSEMACH.
- National Society of Agriculture. Benjamin Matte, past president, was a director of Patria y Libertad and advocated the murder of all communists.
- Chamber of Construction. Hugo Leon, president, stated: “We will carry on all of our forces to an enormous strike and not give in until the Armed Forces intervene and Allende is finished.”
- Central Work Confederation. Founded by Leon Vilarin, who was also president of the National Command for Gremio Defense, this organization became the labor spokesman for the junta after Sept. 11, 1973. Vilarin was also president of the Confederation of Truck Owners of Chile, even though he owned no trucks.
- Julio Bazan, president of CUPROCH, is a member of one of Chile’s oldest aristocratic families. He takes home $7,000 a month as a mining engineer.
The above are some of the more prominent “leaders of labor” who worked with AIFLD in the three years of destabilization. Taking advantage of word ambiguity and resorting to downright lies, the representatives of “free trade unionism” in Chile attempted to portray the CUPROCH lock outs as strikes and the protests of middle class housewives as evidence of “workers’ dissatisfaction with the Marxist regime.”
Chileans in exile and international organizations estimate that 30,000 persons—most of them workers and members of the CUT—were killed during and after the coup. Additional thousands were imprisoned by the DINA, the Chilean secret police. Many were tortured.
After the junta, the CUT was outlawed, its unions shut down, and its funds distributed among the Gremios. Thousands have been forced into exile.
At the same time, spokesmen for Chilean labor have been touring the hemisphere, defending the junta. Eduardo Rojas, president of COMACH, has been selected president of the new Chilean labor federation. Another AIFLD graduate, Luis Villenas, is vice-president.
The American Federation of Teachers and Chile
Even before the election of Albert Shanker as AFT president in 1974, the AFT was involved in Chile through the International Federation of Free Teachers Unions (IFFTU).
AFT’s representative for Latin America in those days was Denise Thiry, a Chilean who worked in the AFT national office. Ms. Thiry had never been a member of an AFT local (or a teacher for that matter).She was hired to work in the AFT national office in the early 1970’s. Prior to that, she had worked for PTTI.
According to former AFT president David Selden:
It was through IFFTU that I first met Denise Thiry. She emigrated to Chile with her well-to-do parents during or soon after World War II from Belgium. In the 1960’s, she was working in the office of the Postal, Telegraph and Telephone International, which was housed in the headquarters of the Communications Workers of America in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Thiry started working as a secretary, but her linguistic ability—French, Spanish, English, and some German—and her general competence soon resulted in a promotion to an organizing position, working mainly in South America.
From PTTI, Ms. Thiry came into the AFT. According to Selden, he tried to establish an international program independent of AIFLD. It failed. “While the deal was under consideration I suddenly was offered the service of Denise Thiry to head it up.”
Thiry represented the AFT in Latin America at the time of the Chile coup. The following year David Selden was defeated in his bid for re-election. Albert Shanker became AFT president. Four weeks after Shanker was elected—and less than a year after the bodies were smoking in the streets of Santiago, Chile—the AFT applied for its first AIFLD grant. Thiry was made director of international relations for the teachers union that she had never belonged to.
One of the people sponsored for training at Front Royal by the IFFTU (at Ms. Thiry’s request) was Gilbert Gaston, an administrator in the National Military School in Chile at the time of the coup. Gaston spoke for his graduating class at Front Royal in March, 1974. He had nothing to say in criticism of the Pinochet junta. Afterwards, AIFLD sponsored him to go to Costa Rica to “clarify conflicting rumors about the Chilean situation.”
We do know what happened to the Chilean Teachers Union after the coup—it was padlocked and its property was confiscated and turned over to a teachers’ “professional association.”
The IFFTU reported to AIFLD on the situation after the coup:
The democratic leaders are busy making the necessary contacts to re-organize the teachers under an organization reflecting the traditions of democracy in Chile. During her visit in November, 1973, Ms. Denise Thiry had the opportunity to discuss future programmes now that conditions have changed in that country. An intensive educational programme has been requested, in order to ensure a democratic base for the new teachers’ organizations.
Seconding Ms. Thiry’s opinion, AIFLD Director William Doherty, Jr. reported on July 1, 1974: “AIFLD will aid democratic, reformist workers to build strong unions in Chile, giving the country a democratic-dominated movement for the first time in many years.”
We know the fate of at least one teacher who apparently was not part of the democratic teachers’ movement that Ms. Thiry looked forward to. Forty-two-year-old Marta Ugarta, a member of the Communist Party and the Chilean Teachers Union (SUTE), was arrested by DINA agents on August 9,1976. Several weeks later, her body was found on the beach north of Valparaiso. She had been strangled, her jawbones and both wrists had been broken, and she had numerous contusions.
Pedro Jara had seen her in prison:
Comrade Marta was able to show us her wrists which had turned very dark. There was no longer any skin at some places, and she told us that she had been suspended for many hours during the interrogation. She also told us that she had been “treated” with electric current continuously and that she had been confronted by others.
After Marta Ugarta’s body was found on August 27, the junta tried to claim that the death had been the crime of a pervert. The body was so mutilated that dental records were needed to make a positive identification.
1974: The AFT Gets Shanker and AIFL
By the time of the National Convention of the AFT in August, 1974, enough was known about the situation in Chile to move the delegates to pass a resolution strongly condemning the junta and calling on the U.S. government to place sanctions against the junta until basic rights were restored. The motion passed overwhelmingly.
Immediately after the Chile resolution was passed, a motion asking the union to investigate AIFLD’s relationship to the 1973 coup was defeated. The motion, which simply asked for an investigation into charges against AIFLD, was opposed on the floor by Sandra Feldman, a delegate from New York’s United Federation of Teachers. In two days, Feldman would become an AFT vice-president, when Shanker’s Progressive Caucus was swept into office. On the AIFLD motion, she said:
Now, there are those of us who know something about the AFL-CIO’s role in international affairs, and we know that we feel that the work that the AFL-CIO does through AIFLD is work which benefits workers in Latin America, which teaches the organizing skills including skills in developing their own trade skills and helps them organize free trade unions.
Now, the last thing that the AFL-CIO would be interested in doing is to put down the militancy of trade unions in the underdeveloped countries. It is in the interest of the AFL-CIO for militant free trade unions to develop in the rest of the world, certainly in Latin America, so that the workers in those countries cannot be used as slave labor, at low wages, undermining the wages of workers in the United States.
It is in the interests of workers in the AFL-CIO and in the United States and in the interests of workers in other countries for them to be able to build strong, militant, free trade unions, and that is the kind of work that the AFL-CIO is engaged in in Latin America and other places around the world where they are trying to aid fellow trade unionists.
I think that all this is trying to do is take a slap at the AFL-CIO, and I urge us to defeat it.
[AFT, Convention Proceedings, 1974, p. 87]
Feldman, at least, didn’t have to worry about slapping AIFLD in the face. The motion was defeated. The following year, another resolution was introduced along the same lines. It, too, was defeated. By1976 the annual Chile resolution merely called for a boycott of the “Torture Ship” Esmeralda, which was visiting the U.S. from Chile on a good will tour. That passed.
But by the 1976 convention, a number of things had changed. Most importantly, the AFT had become a part of AIFLD’s network of U.S. unions working under contract on “union to union” projects.
Less than two weeks after he was elected AFT president, Shanker began the procedure to get the union officially into AIFLD. In September, 1974, AFT treasurer Bob Porter sent in an application for the AFT’s first grant.
By 1977, the AFT was one of seven American unions participating in “union to union” AIFLD programs in Latin America.
Four of these unions—the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks (BRAC), the Communication Workers of America (CWA), the Glass Bottle Blowers Association (GBBA), and the Retail Clerks International Union (RCIA)—presently receive AIFLD money in the form of what are called “subgrants.” This means that they have the right to supervise their own administration of the money. Subgrant recipients are the journeymen of the AIFLD program. They don’t need as much guidance.
Three other AIFLD unions—the AFT, the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers (ACWA) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) receive their money through “letters of agreement.” These unions are required to submit to more direct AIFLD supervision in the administration of their programs.
The AFT hopes to be out of its apprenticeship before long. Already an AFT AIFLD budget of $100,000annually is projected by 1981.
Exit Ms. Thiry; Enter Messers Loewenthal and DiBlasi
Denise Thiry did not appear at the AFT’s 60th annual convention in Bal Harbour, Florida, in 1976. Despite the fact that the union’s annual report had a section extolling her work, she had already resigned.
In August, 1978, we tried to find out what happened to her. We called the AFT and spoke with Ms. Carello in the International Affairs Department. When she said that nobody knew were Denise was, we asked whether she had left under a cloud. “Oh, no, we all loved her,” was the reply. Nevertheless, Ms. Thiry has left AFT and is unable to confirm stories that have been printed about her career, including one that charges that she held a party in her home in Washington, D.C. on the night of September 11,1973, to celebrate the “return of democracy to Chile.”
Thiry’s work was taken over by Al Loewenthal, who works as assistant to AFT president Albert Shanker. It was Loewenthal who introduced Irving Brown to the loyalists who came to hear him rap during the 1977 AFT convention in Boston. Loewenthal’s major areas of work in the union recently have been “international affairs” and cold war anti-communist propaganda.
Al Loewenthal, “Educator?”
According to the 1976-77 “Report on the State of Union” distributed to all delegates and visitors to the convention (and subsequently published in the September, 1977 issue of the
American Teacher, the union’s monthly newspaper):
Al Loewenthal, Assistant to the President, administers several departments, among them COPE, Legislation, Colleges and Universities, and International Education….…He frequently represents President Shanker at union-related functions and plays an important role in the continuing development of the AFL-CIO Public Employee Department….
Loewenthal represents the AFT on the trade union advisory committees for the Jewish Labor Committee and the National Committee for Labor Israel (Histradrut). He is active with the staff of the International Federation of Free Teachers Unions (IFFTU)….
Loewenthal was selected to represent the AFT on a survey team that visited teacher unions in the ASEAN countries, under the sponsorship of the IFFTU….
The IFFTU, like the other “free” labor unions and federations which sprinkle the AFL-CIA Orwellian glossary, has long been associated with the kind of “free trade unionism” that now exists in Chile. Working in coordination with the U.S. State Department’s Agency for International Development(AID) and the CIA’s agents in the western hemisphere, the IFFTU has increased its locals in the Caribbean from two to 19 in the three years since Loewenthal and Shanker moved their operation from New York to the union’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Loewenthal’s jobs are both ideological and organizational. On the organizational side, he coordinates “surveys” of teacher unionism in Asia, assists selected trade unionists through agencies like AIFLD, and works with men like Irving Brown to overthrow governments critical of the policies of the United States and the multinational corporations.
Loewenthal’s ideological tasks included bringing French author Jean Francois Revel to address the 1977 AFT QUEST conference in Washington, D. C. Revel, author of
Without Marx or Jesus, is a leading European apologist for the United States. Part of Revel’s ideological contribution to the AFT was to tell people that America is doing nice things around the world and that fascism and communism are the same thing.
Loewenthal also works as a liaison with the Jewish Labor Committee. The JLC was formed in 1934 by David Dubinsky of the ILGWU and a number of others who were preparing to leave the Socialist Party.It was partly a response to the anti-Semitism of the Depression and partly a bloc to pressure the AFL leadership to admit a Jewish member. There had been no Jewish labor leader on the AFL Executive Council since Samuel Gompers died in 1928.
The JLC also spent a good deal of its time during the thirties fighting “communism” and Jewish labor leaders who were communists. Since the main anti-Semitic organizations in the world were fascist, and since the communists were fighting fascism a lot earlier and a lot harder than a lot of the JLC’s friends, it was difficult to be anti-fascist and anti-communist in the labor movement of the late ‘30’s.
It was only after World War II that the JLC found its home. It began acting as a front for activities of the Lovestone-Irving Brown team in Europe and a conduit for CIA funds to Brown’s European unions.
According to George Meany’s official biographer, Joseph Goulden:
One group Brown used as a front was the Jewish Labor Committee in New York, which acted as a conduit to get AFL money to Force Ouvriere…ostensibly for Jewish relief, actually for organization. By late 1947 the AFL was sending FO three thousand dollars every three weeks through the JLC….
Considering the fact that many of the professional anti-communists who received Brown’s sponsorship in the post war years had been sympathetic to the fascists—and certainly not opposed to the fascists’ views about the Jewish people—helping Brown was a peculiar way to fight against anti-Semitism.
As part of his role as “educator” for the AFT, Loewenthal makes frequent contributions to the union’s national newspaper, the American Teacher. In the November-December, 1977 issue of the paper, for example, the major book review deals with the book American Labor and European Politics: The AFL as a Transitional Force, by Roy Godson, Director of the Georgetown University International Labor program. An entire page of the newspaper is devoted to Loewenthal’s review of the Godson book.
American Labor and European Politics presents the Irving Brown-as-Robin Hood version of post-World War II European labor history. Loewenthal’s only criticism of the book is that there aren’t more like it and that it didn’t appear sooner.
Loewenthal recommends the book highly, partly because he seems to believe that we might have to crank up Brown’s old cooperation in Europe again soon. He views the rise of eurocommunism and the growing independence of the European labor movement from George Meany’s tutelage with alarm and warns:
…at a future date, in the struggle for democratic restoration, the lessons of post-war Europe will find application over and over again….
In the third world, we learn, those lessons are already “finding application.” Loewenthal only hopes that that application can be more widespread, and that the American Federation of Teachers can be more active in applying it:
…The emergence of new nations in the aftermath of colonial rule has created newer problems. The tasks are very difficult because everywhere—from the new Caribbean Island nations to the giants on the Asian subcontinent—trade unionists fear the take-over tactics of well-financed Communist operatives, whether of the Moscow, Peking, or Havana types. In country after country, where economics, prove to be shaky, the situation is even more complex. Dictatorships, usually of the military variety, emerge , and the trade union movement is hobbled. Teacher unions, for example arepermitted to exist, but within prescribed limits under government guidance. [Emphasis added]
Teachers unions like the SUTE in Chile are not even mentioned. They are not even permitted to exist “under governmental guidance,” as Loewenthal so delicately puts it. Those unions which do exist under the military dictatorships established and maintained with the help of the CIA, the State Department, and the AFL-CIO’s Department of International Affairs, practice a “business unionism.” “Unions” collaborate with the local dictatorships and work to insure labor peace while the multinational corporations which help sponsor AIFLD exploit the workers.
In Chile, the first educator to come to AIFLD’s Front Royal training center after the coup was a man named Gaston Gilbert. Gilbert was an administrator of the police academy of Santiago, one of the centers of the coup.
In fact, “labor leaders” of the kind Loewenthal sponsors live by the grace of their dictators and their dictators’ masters in the U.S. Labor leaders that are not favored by the AFL-CIO risk their lives to organize in their native lands.
At the end of his essay on Godson’s book, Loewenthal discourses on the renewed danger of Communism (of the “Moscow variety,” we are left to assume) in Europe under the guise of Eurocommunism. Loewenthal is upset that the new European Confederation of Trade Unions has recently admitted the Italian Trade Union Federation which is led by members of the Italian Communist Party.
Apparently, European trade union leaders are not as wise as those leaders of the American Labor movement who supported the Taft Hartley Act and other laws aimed at eliminating communists at home after World War II. Irving Brown and his “colleagues” in Marseilles used money sent through the Jewish Labor Committee in New York to hire Mafia goons in Europe to eliminate communists there. Of course, the association between the anti-communist “socialists” of New York and organized crime goes back long before World War II. But that’s another part of the story. The mafia has always been a bulwark of anti-communism, just as it has been staunch in its opposition to “quotas”….
Although Loewenthal claims to be “pessimistic,” his hope lies with books like Godson’s and folks like Brown:
Are we witnessing a replay of 1945-47? Godson lets current grim facts fall into place and the picture is once again grim.
Can the rest of history repeat itself, i.e. the enormously successful role of the American trade unions? Will American multinational corporations operating in Europe agree to collective bargaining, American style? If they do, Godson suggests, all sorts of benefits to strengthen democracy could be the result in European and American unions….
Such benefits to democracy are apparent both abroad and at home. CIA unionism is insuring low wages in Latin America. The multinational corporations benefit. The workers suffer. The same freedom is coming home to the AFT: published votes; suppression of dissident locals….
The working people of New York are being educated by labor leaders like Shanker. Lowering wages and labor peace there, too. Educationally, this is pure Orwell.
But as educators, the leaders of the American Federation of Teachers are working overtime to insure that as many of us as possible have these lessons in our curricula.
Loewenthal’s acquaintance with Professor Godson and the Georgetown University program inInternational Labor Affairs and Labor Economics is not one that came about through a book review.
In fact, the AFT jointly sponsors graduate study programs at Georgetown and Rutgers through the union’s Department of International Education. Work done under supervised programs, including onefor “graduate credit for overseas travel and study,” can be applied to an M.A. in Labor Studies from Rutgers or even a D.Ed. For a year’s study at Georgetown, selected AFT members can now receive an M.A. in International Relations.
The International Education Department of AFT, established under Loewenthal’s direction in January, 1975, has been moving fast.
What does Al Loewenthal think of the CIA? He says he likes it. While members of the United Action Caucus were leafleting “Who Is Irving Brown” to delegates entering the convention at the Hynes Veterans Auditorium in Boston in August, 1977, he stopped to pick up a leaflet.
“What’s wrong with the CIA?” he asked a member of the New York teachers union, “I’ve beenworking with them for years.”
Anthony DiBlasi: AFT–CIA Man?
Immediately after the 1977 AFT convention in Boston, the union’s Executive Council met and made several appointments to national union positions.
The September, 1977 issue of the American Teacher noted:
Tony DiBlasi has been appointed as the AFT’s International Affairs representative under the direction of Al Loewenthal, assistant to AFT President Shanker. DiBlasi, 39, will be the AFT representative in coordinating IFFTU in Latin America….
Before taking his post with the AFT, DiBlasi was, since 1974, an assistant director for the American Institute for Free Labor Development at AIFLD’s Front Royal training center in Virginia, which offers labor education for South American trade unionists. Previously, he was an AIFLD field representative in Honduras and Ecuador.
Born in Somalia, Africa, DiBlasi spent twelve years in his native country, Italy, before moving to Washington, D.C. He holds a B.S. degree from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and did graduate work in economics and linguistics.
As we noted earlier, Front Royal’s graduates today staff some of the most important union posts in Latin America. Virtually all of them are leaders of unions which exist by the grace of Caribbean and South American military dictators, including the present governments of the two countries where DiBlasi has served for AIFLD.
The unions that AIFLD has supported in Ecuador, for example, have maintained or helped maintain astatus quo which, in 1973, meant that:
….84% of all Ecuadoreans earn roughly five times less than that required to support a minimal standard of living….
….54% of the population receives only 9.5% of total income, while 7% receives fully one-half of total income generated in Ecuador.
Ecuador today, along with Honduras, stand among the poorest nations of the world. At the other end of the income spread in these countries stand the local elites who help maintain the power of the multinational corporations which co-sponsor AIFLD.
Just as we are to believe that turtles fly, we will soon be told of the achievements of “free trade unionism” in the countries that DiBlasi has helped to pacify for multinational capital. AIFLD’s free trade unionism in Ecuador and Honduras is part of the problem, not part of the solution to working people there.
What the future holds for the AFT in international affairs, no one can say. One thing is clear. Neither AIFLD nor the AFT’s special relationship with it is going to go away.
Chapter Four: The African American Labor Center (AALC)
AIFLD’s counterpart for Africa is the African American Labor Center (AALC). The two organizations refer to one another as “sister” organizations.
The AALC was founded in 1965 after more than a decade of tension between George Meany and the Lovestone people, on the one hand, and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, on the other, over what to do in Africa. The contradictions within the ICFTU over African policy resulted from the simple fact that the U.S. government and the governments of the former colonial powers of Europe had conflicting interests in the African continent at each step in the struggle for freedom from colonialism. These were reflected in the labor unions working through the ICFTU. Even Force Ouvriere (FO), which had been created by Irving Brown with AFL-CIO and CIA money in France, balked at supporting the AFL-CIO’s policies in the French colonies of North Africa. The result was that the AFL-CIO accused the ICFTU of obstructing the work of decolonization and of being soft on communism. AALC—a totally owned subsidiary of the AFL-CIO whose money comes from the U.S. government—was born.
Unlike the AIFLD, AALC does not enshrine “tripartism” in its Board of Directors. George Meany is President and Chairman of the Board. Irving Brown was Executive Director from 1965 until 1973, when he was succeeded by Patrick O’Farrell. The entire Board of Directors is composed of leaders of AFL-CIO unions.
Like AIFLD, the AALC pushes programs of workers education and technical assistance for Africanunion leaders and members. It also makes direct grants and low interest loans to African unions for various purposes. In 1970, the Center paid $350,000 to build the headquarters of the Confederation of Ethiopian Labor Unions (CELU). Former Emperor Haile Selassie attended the dedication ceremonies for the building.
Most of the AALC’s projects are less grandiose than the CELU headquarters in Ethiopia. They include mobile health clinics, smaller buildings, office equipment, and technical assistance. AALC “technical assistants” operate today in more than 40 sub-Saharan African nations training African workers in skills ranging from tailoring in Dakar to diesel mechanics in Ghana. The AALC even gave a 16 mm. movie projector to SWAPO, the Southwest Africa People’s Organization, which is fighting a guerilla war against the illegal occupation of Namibia (the African name for Southwest Africa) by the Union of South Africa.
The core of the AALC program is “workers education.” Unlike AIFLD, the AALC does not have a Front Royal, Virginia, at which to host large numbers of scholarship students. Most training is done at various locations in Africa itself. A small number of handpicked leaders are sent to Harvard University, where they study in the Harvard Trade Union Program. After completing their classroom work, they spend time in the United States visiting American unions.
AALC educational work emphasizes collective bargaining and workers’ self-help as opposed to strike action. Typical courses in Africa are devoted to collective bargaining, union management (a sample: “How to Establish a Stable Dues Structure”), and cooperatives. The Center has spent millions of dollars financing African workers’ credit unions and cooperatives.
By the end of 1971, just six years after its founding, the AALC had projects in 31 sub-Saharan African nations and in Tunisia. Since that time, projects have expanded to more than 40 nations.
Since Patrick O’Farrell became Executive Director in 1973, the AALC has given more and more space to the work of the International Trade Secretariats (ITS’s) in Africa. The most active ITS’s have been the International Journalists Federation, the Retail Clerks International Association (RCIA), the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF), and the International Federation of Free Teachers Unions (IFFTU). Much of the work done by the ITS’s in Africa is financed by the AALC, which tightly controls the money to insure political reliability among its subcontractors and its African proteges. In1972, AALC announced that Force Ouvriere, the French union established with Irving Brown’s AFL-CIO and CIA money after World War II, had established a parallel organization, the Institute Syndicale Cooperation, which would work with the AALC in French-speaking Africa.
Free Trade Unionism in Southern Africa
The AFL-CIO has been on record for almost two decades in opposition to the apartheid policies of the Union of South Africa. AFL-CIO unions have participated actively in boycotting Rhodesian chrome, and the federation has lobbied for sanctions against the two main white supremacist regimes in Southern Africa.
The specific programs of the AALC in Southern Africa, however, reveal a great deal about itsintentions and its allies.
Prior to the liberation of Angola from Portuguese colonialism, the AALC devoted a great deal of timeand money to programs for Angolan unionists in exile in Zaire (formerly the Belgian Congo). At theend of 1973, the two “exile” Angolan union federations in Zaire merged to form the Centrale Syndicate Angolaise (CSA), which was affiliated with the GRAE (the “Angolan Revolutionary Government in Exile”).
At the time, there was a minimum of three “national liberation movements” for Angola. The Angolans in Zaire were affiliated with Holden Roberto’s National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA). The majority of those inside Angola were fighting for Augustin Neto’s Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), while a tribal movement in southern Angola had been organized into UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi.
After the MPLA liberated Luanda, the capitol of Angola, in 1975, negotiations began between the three movements towards the formation of a new government. These ended when the FNLA and UNITA attacked the MPLA from the north and south respectively. Troops from the Union of South Africa aided UNITA, while it was charged at the same time that the FNLA in Zaire was under the control of the CIA.
Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon denied any CIA support for Holden Roberto and the FNLA. The MPLA has since defeated the FNLA “army” and most of UNITA. Angola, under President Neto, istrying to rebuild.
Nixon and Kissinger were lying four years ago. In 1978, the former head of CIA in Angola, John Stockwell, published a book detailing the CIA’s operationagainst the MPLA from Zaire. The FNLA, with its affiliated “unions” and army, it turns out, was a CIA operation. With the defeat of Roberto’s army and the establishment of MPLA control in Angola, the AALC’s “free trade union” federation, the CSA, has dropped out of sight.
Similar contradictions exist in Zimbabwe, where American policy has changed since the days of Kissinger only to the extent that U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young is able to speak out forcefully for black majority rule while the agencies of the U.S. government work to insure that it will be the “right” kind of blacks who rule the majority. In 1973 the third world was scandalized (but not surprised) with the revelation that Kissinger had organized a plan for NATO intervention in Southern Africa (called, typically, “Operation Tar Baby”) to prevent a radical takeover of Southern Africa.
With the liberation of Angola and Mozambique in 1974, the position of Zimbabwe (the African name for the settler state of Rhodesia) changed radically. Even the intransigents behind Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith admit that some form of “majority rule” will be necessary in the future. The question for the black workers and peasants of Zimbabwe will be what kind of economic, political, andsocial life they will face with the onset of “majority rule.”
Irving Brown is already working on it. The AFL-CIO’s “freedom fighter” in Zimbabwe is Reuben Jamela. According to Philemon Mabuza, who served for seven years with the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union(ZAPU) as a guerrilla fighter and who is now living in exile in Britain:
Reuben Jamela was a protagonist during the early sixties for affiliation with the American dominated International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. He was a good friend of Irving Brown, the international representative of the AFL-CIO, the conservative U.S. trade union federation, and was one of the several Zimbabwean trade union movement individuals showered with money by the ICFTU. During its heyday, he was an executive board member of that body.
Much hated by the nationalists, he was stoned at a nationalist figure’s funeral. He is remembered by the workers in Haare, Salisbury, as the man who pulled the rug from under their feet in several wage struggles. He quit his high position in the trade union movement in the early 1960’s, but remained a member of the Salisbury Municipal Workers Union. Like many Zimbabwean power seekers, he has an uncanny way of bouncing back.
Late last year (i.e. late 1977), he announced that he was going to form, with the backing of the AFL-CIO, the Zimbabwean Labour Confederation, a body that could again split the trade union movement if it gained support.
A million dollars can go a long way toward creating a labor leader, even if he has no base among the rank and file and is at odds with his own people. And millions of dollars are being spent by the AALC and the other organizations promoting the AFL-CIO’s “free trade unionism” in Africa, just as they arein Latin America.
By 1969, in less than five years, the AALC had officially spent more than $9 million on its African program. Since that time, the amount spent annually has increased. While much of the money can be accounted for through the organization’s “educational” and “technical” programs, a good deal of it is used directly to bribe African trade unionists. Brown’s methods haven’t changed much since he boughta French labor movement of sorts to support the Marshall Plan in the late 1940’s.
In an exclusive interview in December, 1977, with Jean Bruck, former Secretary General of the World Confederation of Labor (WCL), Transnational Features Services reporters Rodney Larson and Don Thomson received confirmation of how Irving Brown was spending some of the money supplied to him by the AFL-CIO and AID:
They were influencing these conferences (of labor federations) through important gifts of money—large amounts of money—and the decisions of the meetings and conferences in order to make foremost the influence of the Americans on the African trade unions.
They did not leave space for other influence. Before the meeting would open, Irving Brown and his associates would be the first in the hotel. They were welcoming people and they were giving money to people, sometimes openly in the corridors with one suitcase and plenty of envelopes. They were giving their envelopes and they were giving their instructions to the people of the unions.
And after the meetings, when the meeting was successful in the way they were wishing it to be successful, they were giving additional envelopes to people who had assured their majority in the meetings.
(1977, Transnational Features Service. Reprinted by permission)
The “envelopes in the corridors” almost sounds too fantastic to believe, and perhaps it was when M. Bruck and the WCL faced Brown and Co. during the 1960’s. Since the “Koreagate” scandals in Washington, the idea of envelopes in suitcases is not as hard to believe. And the money came from the same place; the American taxpayers through the CIA or its conduits.
Since 1973, the AALC has been developing programs for black workers in the Union of South Africa itself. AALC projects in South Africa are undertaken in the “tribal homelands” and the black provinces of Swaziland and Lesotho. A question could well be asked why the AFL-CIO is permitted to work inthese areas while the government of the Union of South Africa kills organizers like Steven Biko.
As early as 1966, Brown was warning the U.S. Congress about the need for stronger measures for dealing with Southern Africa. In testifying before the House of Representatives subcommittee on Africa, he made an analogy between South Africa and Vietnam which sounds more ominous today than it did 12 years ago:
The great involvement of America in Vietnam today (1966) is not unrelated to the need to be concerned about the rising and eventual threat to peace and freedom in South Africa. For South Africa today presents the kind of problem that Vietnam was some years ago before it became necessary to involve over 200,000 American troops in a war to maintain the rights of people to their own kind of self-determination. If the Western World had supported the nationalist movement in those early days and helped them to attain their independence in a peaceful and democratic manner, the resort to violence might have been averted by democratic mass movements within the country itself.
Eleven years after he made the above remarks to the U.S. House of Representatives, Mr. Brown stroked the same string in his speech as “AFL-CIO Representative in Europe” to the American Federation of Teachers. At the AFT convention in Boston in 1977, he said the same thing, warning that South Africa could become “another Vietnam.”
Considering the results of American involvement in Vietnam, we need to consider—as Brown told us to—our involvement in Africa. But we should also consider whether we want to drive into the Southern African quagmire with the same chauffeurs who brought us Vietnam and stuck with it until the bitter end. Irving Brown, Jay Lovestone, and the money they have been spending so lavishly since World War II have no more place in a truly free trade union movement than J. Peter Grace and the Rockefeller corporations. In practice, their definition of freedom—whether for Vietnam or Africa—has more to it of Orwell than of the Declaration of Independence.
As we pointed out in Chapter 3, the CIA was forced to reorganize its money conduits after the exposures of the CIA foundation-fronts during the 1960’s. Most observers credit the Agency for International Development (AID) with taking up the slack for the intelligence agency. It is certainly clear that AID is not offering U.S. unions $40 million to organize the unorganized into “free trade unions” inside the United States. In fact, trade union membership in America as a percentage of the workforce is now at its lowest point since World War II and continues to drop. The same Congress that approves the AID package for AIFLD and the AALC defeats Labor Law Reform. Why?
It should be obvious that those who defeat Labor Law Reform for the United States and approve “free rade union” missionary work abroad are working for the same ends. What is confusing is that the people who are doing the missionary work don’t see the contradiction.
In 1972, George Meany bragged that 20% of the AFL-CIO budget was now going for international affairs. That’s nothing to brag about in a time when the organizing department has shrunk and unions all over the country are losing members.
Nevertheless, the AFT, which has likewise suffered a drop in membership, is preparing to get on the bandwagon with the African American Labor Center.
Teachers in Africa: Local 2 Takes the Lead
The AFT’s involvement with Irving Brown’s programs in Africa is still in its infancy. The 1978 national union convention is the first to consider a resolution dealing with the AALC.
Nevertheless, AFT members, especially those from New York’s Local 2, have been active in AALC work for years.
In 1972, AALC took AFT national organizer Richard Arnold onto its staff to work in Addis Adaba.
In April 1973, the AALC Reporter announced that Doug McQuillan, a former member of the Delegate Assembly of AFT Local 2, the United Federation of Teachers, would join the AALC staff as a technical expert.
In October, 1973, the Reporter noted that UFT Assistant Treasurer Ponsie Hillman had toured Africa under AALC auspices, visiting Zaire, Kenya and Ethiopia. She also visited Europe and met with Force Ouvriere in France.
On April 22, 1974, the International Federation of Free Teachers Unions (IFFTU) met to discuss Pan Africanism in Zaire.
On June 8, 1975, AFT Vice-President Velma Hill represented the AFT at the AALC “Exchange of Views” in Choully, Switzerland.
On June 6, 1976, Albert Shanker, AFT President, joined Irving Brown and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Lane Kirkland for the AALC “Exchange of Views” at Choully.
From April 16 to 21, 1978, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Executive Director Vito DiLeonardis lectured on collective bargaining and trade union management in Kenya.
August, 1978, the AFT national convention considers a resolution proposed by the Executive Council on South Africa. Among other things, the resolution states:
The AFT reaffirms its commitment to the work of the African American Labor Centersupported by the AFL-CIO. Aid and assistance must be provided to free trade unionswhich are operating under repressive conditions. As teachers, we offer special assistanceto free teacher unions and urge their affiliation with the International Federation of FreeTeachers Unions.
(Proposed AFT Convention Resolution #78).